Amanda Lynn and the Evil Twin
I loved playing practical jokes on other kids when I was growing up. I had some good ones, and I was absolutely believable.
My neighbor Tina once dressed me up in her clothes when I was about 11 years old. She put one of her bras on me and stuffed it full of socks. Then she curled my long hair and put makeup on me. I was no longer Mandy (my nickname as a kid) but instead I was a grown up. Tina said I didn't even look like the same person. We agreed that she would take me outside to show me off to the neighborhood as her new friend - but I needed a new name. Lack of imagination right then left me deciding on Lynn, my own middle name.
Tina and I walked outside and right away two of my neighbors came running over asking if I could play with them. Tina looked at them funny and I tried not to smile because I knew my crooked trademark teeth would give me away instantly. The two girls stopped dead in their tracks, looked at me a moment, then looked at Tina completely puzzled.
"Mandy's not home," Tina said. Rachel and Rona, adorable little Filipino sisters, looked back at me.
"Yes she is," the older of the two said. Little 6 year old Rona walked over and took my hand. Rachel continued talking. "We know that's Mandy."
I struggled internally to change my voice in an instant without testing it first. In the sweetest voice imaginable, so sweet it hurt my teeth as the breath forming the words passed between them, my octave climbed a full scale and I lied to my friends. "I'm not Mandy," I explained to them, "I'm Lynn."
Astonished, the two girls looked me dead in the eye. They studied my face and features, and finally gave up. They walked back home, Rona holding Rachel's hand and telling her big sister "She sure LOOKED like Mandy.
That moment with Tina spawned a wicked side of me that would continue clear through until my early years of High School. She had invented my evil twin.
Rachel and Rona were outside playing a week later when Mom and I came home from the grocery store. I helped Mom unload all of her groceries, and in the mean time Tina came outside again. She asked Rachel and Rona if they had seen Lynn, that Lynn was supposed to come over to her house that day. Rachel pointed at me.
"She's right in front of you," she said. Tina thought she had been defeated, the girls weren't as gullible as she had imagined. She said hi to me, said my actual name Mandy, turned and went back into her house. I wouldn't be defeated though. I was going to see this one through and have them believe it with their whole hearts before I was done with them.
I studied hard and wrote a list of traits that I currently had and would be easy to separate between two people if needed. There were days I wore plain t-shirts and days I wore printed t-shirts with pictures of Disney princesses on them. There were days I wore shorts and days I wore pants. I was a normal kid. Variety was my thing.
I decided to break it down easily. On the days I wore printed t-shirts, I would pull my hair back in a pony tail and tell the girls next door I was actually Lynn. On the days I wore plain shirts, I would leave my hair down and say I was Amanda. But what to do about the school situation? We all walked to school together. How would I explain that they had never seen Mandy and Lynn together and we didn't both go to school? It got very elaborate very quickly, and somehow I managed to keep up with it.
I explained that nobody knew that there were two of us. (This is where it gets confusing...) I told them that if anyone saw us together, they would make both of us go to school and my parents couldn't afford that. So, while one went to school, the other stayed home. We took turns every day, and thats why I had perfect attendance at school. They started to buy into it, so I kept it going. I then told them that neither of us (me or myself) could afford to fall behind in school or our grades would suffer from it, so that's why we (me and myself) had such an early curfue. We (me and myself) studied every night all the things that had been taught that day so we would both be up to date.
When Rachel and Rona came over some time after I had started this charade, they asked if I could come out to play. Mom called me down stairs and then went back to her sewing in the living room. She was making two identical dresses for me from the same pattern - a black dress and a pink dress. It went along so well with my story I had cooked up with inspiration from Tina. Mom just happened to have both dresses in her hands when she answered the door.
"Which one are you," Rachel whispered. I had to think fast. Did I have on a printed t-shirt? My hair wasn't in a pony tail.
"Your mom doesn't know you told us, does she?"
"No," I answered honestly for once. "Why?"
"Because she answered the door with two identical dresses she's making for you guys and she didn't even try to hide them."
"Well she wouldn't, would she? It would make people wonder why she was hiding them. What if she were only making two dresses for one person?"
"Why would she make two of the same dresses for one person?"
"They're different colors."
"Ok, Lynn, can Manda come out and play?"
"I'll go get her," I said, somewhat startled by the question. Somehow they liked the actual me rather than the fake person I invented and still didn't have a solid personality for. "Lynn" was a mere shadow of a person, just a name I had invented for an elaborate lie Tina had started to create and I took to the next level. I bounded up the stairs two at a time and pulled the whole Mrs Doubtfire thing where Robin Williams is changing his clothes while shouting in both his voice and the voice of Mrs. Doubtfire in a conversation so the social worker doesn't grow suspicious. At the same time I had to keep it down lest my mother begin to wonder what I was up to.
"Hey Manda, they want you to come out and play," I said pretending to be Lynn.
"Who?" I asked as myself of myself.
"Rachel and Rona" I answered myself as pretend Lynn.
"Oh," I said out loud to nobody in the room. Looking back on the whole thing now I picture myself looking very much like Golem from Lord of the Rings. I had become a monster.
I pulled on my favorite Beauty and the Beast shirt and pulled my hair back in a pony tail. Then I kicked off my shoes and ran back down stairs in my socks.
"Hi Guys," I said. "What do you want to do today?"
Rachel's eyes looked like they were going to pop out of her head. If there ever was a good moment to tell someone I was just kidding, that would have been it. I gracefully let that moment pass.
"Um," she said, slack jawed, "can Lynn come out too?"
"No," I replied. "Nobody can see us together, remember?"
"Then can I come in," Rachel asked.
"My mom wont let anyone in because nobody knows about both of us. That's why she's never let anyone over to the house before. She's never let ANYONE spend the night over here, even my brothers friends." It was all true, other than the twin thing. Every strange detail about my home life played directly into the lie started by Tina and built upon by me.
"Ok, can you go get Lynn then," she asked me.
I bounded back up stairs in my sock feet, stripped off my shirt and threw it on the bed, pulled my hair out of the pony tail while slipping my feet back into my shoes and took off down the stairs again, this time walking like I hadn't been rushing.
"I thought you wanted Manda," I said, pretending annoyance.
"We want to play with both of you."
"We cant," I told her while pretending to be Lynn. I launched into a nearly identical speach as the one I had just given a moment before, pretending as though I knew nothing about it.
By the end of the conversation, coupled with three wardrobe changes, they were completely convinced that I was my own twin sister. It was evil of me to do, but it wasn't the last time I ever did it.
Rachel and Rona would confide things in me that they believed to be telling Lynn and swearing to secrecy. They'd never tell the 'other' twin these things, and because they came clean to at least one of my names, I was able to help them in amazing ways. They had a lot of home life issues they didn't feel safe telling anyone in the world - even me. But when they found the other me and thought I was so amazing about keeping secrets that I kept my own twin sister a secret, they told me everything - things you couldn't imagine.
They moved away a few years later. Rachel gave me two pairs of earrings before she moved, one for each of the 'twins' she had gotten to know. She thought she was the only person in the world that knew other than her baby sister. Even if she had ever told anyone, they would have either thought she was crazy, or would have told her the truth; that I had been lying to her all along. She never would have believed them.
In Jr. High School I told this story to a new friend of mine by the name of Stephanie. She was so intrigued that she convinced herself that I actually had a twin named Lynn and nobody could convince her otherwise.
"You look a little different, I can see the difference in you."
"In you and your sister."
"What? Stepanie, that was a story I told the neighbor back in California," I tried to explain to no avail.
"But you have a mole on your jaw that I don't see every day. So one of you has it and the other doesn't."
"What are you talking about? There's only one of me."
"No, you can't lie to me Amanda. I know there are two of you. You don't have to pretend anymore. I won't tell anyone, I promise."
Stephanie loved drama. She became obsessed with Amy Fisher when she shot and severely wounded the wife of "Joey" Buttafuoco, her lover. Amy Fisher was 17 years old at the time. Stephanie thought it was the most corageous thing she'd ever heard, the way the 17 year old girl had loved her man so much she was willing to commit murder for him. I thought it sounded rather sick and twisted. Fearing she was off in the head, I let her believe the story as long as she liked.
I ran into Stephanie last year while walking through a store in Utah. She still looked exactly the same age. She was still as thin as a rail. Her hair was still the very dark brown it always had been. She hadn't aged a single day. Even her simple wardrobe was the same. It was incredibly easy to spot her. She had no idea who I was.
When I introduced myself to her, having forgotten about her childhood obsession with Amy Fisher, she immediately remembered our entire Jr High and High School days together. She looked closely at the tiny mole on my right cheek and asked me how Lynn was doing. I said she moved to Guam last I heard and I never saw her again.
I never imagined a story Tina started would follow me through to my 30's, but when I ran into Stephanie it brought up memories long forgotten. I hadn't thought about Amanda Lynn vs. Lynn Amanda in years.
I had completely forgotten I was my own twin sister.